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Tuesday
Nov072017

Match Play! 30 Years Of Tech Head To Head

Nice work by Laz Versalles to piece together his old circa 1987 set and match it against today's stuff only to confirm today's clubs are better and yet, not quite as fun of a game as we used to play.

He sets up his GolfWRX story this way (thanks to reader Peter V for sharing):

Somewhere between my father’s 1987 dismissal of the crucible that was the Rich Acres Par-3 and Koepka’s brutish dismantling of Erin Hills, golf has become a wildly different game. But is it a better game? Is it more entertaining to watch? Does the technology that facilitates the game for the masses belittle the game’s rich history? Most importantly, is today’s game more fun to play? I set off on a crusade to find out.

Short of buying a silver DeLorean and traveling back in time to 1987, my best bet was to try and piece together the clubs I played as a teenager and pit them against my current set to see how they would match up. A Match of The Ages if you will; Teenage Me vs. Middle-Aged Me. The artistry of the late 20th century versus the power of the early 21st century. This was going to be fun.

And to spoil the ending, though I hope you'll hit the link...

Middle-Aged Me may have won the match 5 & 4, but Teenage Me definitely won the fun 10 & 8. A big part of that fun was getting reacquainted with a game I hadn’t played in a while. A game that was less about distance and more about shapes and trajectories. A game light on predictability and loaded with variety where a good drive didn’t mean wedges into every green. I saw the golf course as the architect had intended it to be seen, which let me appreciate more of its features.

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Reader Comments (16)

Right on Laz. It's why I play with hickories. The fun factor.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike Stevens
I was a pretty decent junior golfer with persimmon and blades, and now in middle age, with modern equipment, I'm completely useless. Reading articles like this makes me realize I s**k even worse than I thought...
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Up until I quit playing 4 years back I used to break out my old Powerbilt Citation woods and blades (circa early 80's) that I played in college. I'd play with them for about 2 weeks when there were no tournaments on my schedule. 2 items stuck out: the shafts were the heft and about the flexibility of a barbell and the club heads looked like dinner knives. I'd play (but not record an official score) for 2 weeks and invariably became a better player.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCroDad
What a beautiful looking set of golf clubs! No reason why you could not have a wonderful time playing with them off the forward tees.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
13 clubs only !
11.7.2017 | Unregistered Commentersidvicius
Phil Blackmar (if anyone remembers the 6-7 tour pro) just wrote a very similar piece about the fun rediscovery.

https://pblackmar.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/old-become-new/
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHod
I still play my Wilson FG-51 blades and love them, upgraded the woods to Callaway though.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBogey
CroDad,

Just curious - why wouldn't you post the scores for the two weeks?
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterWog
@Wog
I wouldn't record the scores because I believed that in doing so, it would artificially increase my handicap. During those 2 weeks I'd become a better player but my scores would be higher than normal, given the concession to modern equipment.
To my mind, I'd be guilty of sandbagging if I counted those scores.
On a different note, it was during one of these 2 week sojourns that I started listening to music on the course. I'd go to my club in the evening and walk 9 by myself, put my ear buds in place and put on the app for WWOZ out of New Orleans. Heaven.
This was also when I started practicing hitting 4 irons out of greenside bunkers.
Shit. Just writing about this has me sort of missing the game......
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCroDad
Yay for Phil Blackmar...

"I realize I’m not going to play as well as I could with today’s equipment, but my approach is going to be to paint pictures rather than assemble nuts and bolts. I’m moving up a tee and playing at a length that fits being an artist and doesn’t require me to “max out” my speed."

That pretty much covers it.

On my best days I can sort of paint, a little. But I simply do not have the consistency to assemble nuts and bolts on the golf course. Over the last 20 years or so I've played with modern clubs, hickory clubs and with the 1958 blades my did bought new (I did cheat and use some graphite shafted Honma woods).

What's funny is that my low rounds with both hickory and the blades were almost identical to the low rounds I had at the same time with modern clubs.

K
11.7.2017 | Unregistered Commenterkenoneputt
When guys ask me why I'm playing old blades, I explain that I became a golfer using them, and they recreate how golf felt and looked when I was a kid. Foozles, stingers and all.

Besides tooling around in a vintage car or motorcycle (which I do) or playing old music through old guitars and amplifiers (which I do), there aren't that many ways to recreate those feelings of my youth.

Key word: Recreate.

Now, I'm not gonna tell you blasting modern irons high long and straight isn't fun. Or still bombing a (huge) driver as long as I could hit it as a kid.

But, to paraphrase an old sage, "It not a game to which I was originally acquainted."
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBen Hagen
There's art, and then there's paint-by-numbers.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered Commenterpasaplayer
Thanks Geoff and Laz, great stuff. "I saw the golf course as the architect had intended it to be seen." The better the course, the truer those words.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSqueaky
Yeah, I always had more fun putting a smiley in and thus ruining a brand new ball. Great times…

Why would it genuinely surprise people here to know I’ve enjoyed golf every time I’ve played it? Now, then, doesn’t matter.
11.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
Erik, I'm happy you've found happiness and tranquility in every round you've played from when it began until this very day. You're a lucky lad. However, that doesn't negate the joy others feel when playing the game they remember from their youth (yutes?). Allow them their joy and they me as willing to accept your's.

FWIW, I hated smilies too, but found more satisfaction hitting a low punchy that flew under and ran than I do in hammering a drive today. Doesn't invalidate your comment, it's just me.
11.8.2017 | Unregistered Commentermeefer
If I read it correctly.

The "smash factor" on the persimmon and new tech was basically the same??

Longer/lighter = more speed. Larger= confidence on misses

Lower launch, slightly higher spin on the persimmon

So, most of the driver distance increase is more clubhead speed and better launch characteristics (spin and launch angle) with the new equipment, while using the same ball (E6 I believe)
11.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterP Thomas

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